Li­cence to run things for bet­ter com­mu­nity safety

Joint depart­ment serves two coun­cils

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - NEWS - By Debby Thompson debby.thompson@trin­i­tymir­

IF you want to open a strip club in Bea­cons­field or own dan­ger­ous wild an­i­mals in Amer­sham, you need to speak to the joint li­cens­ing team at South Bucks and Chiltern dis­trict coun­cils.

Ok, so there are cur­rently no strip joints within the two coun­cils’ ar­eas and the only dan­ger­ous wild an­i­mals are ostriches on a farm and a mon­key or two in pri­vate own­er­ship. But these still need doc­u­men­ta­tion and this is where the joint li­cens­ing team comes in.

One of the first teams to merge into one unit serv­ing the two coun­cils, the cost of the li­cens­ing team is cur­rently show­ing a £34,000 per an­num sav­ing for the coun­cils and this is set to in­crease.

And while ostriches and strip clubs are a very small part of the team’s work, the list of things it is re­spon­si­ble may sur­prise some.

Gam­bling, in­clud­ing ev­ery­thing from bet­ting shops to slot ma­chines, needs a li­cence and as well as town cen­tre lo­ca­tions and pubs, the team is re­spon­si­ble for is­su­ing li­cences to the ser­vices on the M40. Tat­tooists and acupunc­tur­ists need li­cences, as do street traders and char­ity col­lec­tions. Mo­bile home op­er­a­tors and scrap me­tal col­lec­tors also come un­der the team’s re­mit.

Nathan March, li­cens­ing man­ager for Chiltern and South Bucks dis­trict coun­cils says it’s all about public and com­mu­nity safety and the checks un­der­taken ac­quire li­cences de­signed to en­sure high­est stan­dards.

Run­ning a team that serves two coun­cils might seem tricky but it works very well, he says.

“There is much that is sim­i­lar and works for both coun­cils,” he said. “The leg­is­la­tion doesn’t change, how it is im­ple­mented can vary.”

He works closely with the chair­men of the two li­cens­ing com­mit­tees, Cllr Jonathan Rush for Chiltern Dis­trict Coun­cil and Cllr Alan Wal­ters MBE for South Bucks.

By far the great­est pro­por­tion of their work is pub li­cens­ing and taxi and pri­vate hire li­cences.

In or­der to get a taxi or pri­vate hire ve­hi­cle on the road two li­cences are re­quired, one for the driver and one for the to are the ve­hi­cle. Ve­hi­cle li­cences in­clude a com­pli­ance test that goes over and above an MOT, which is also re­quired. Checks on driv­ers in­clude med­i­cals and en­hanced Dis­clo­sure and Bar­ring Ser­vice (DBS) checks.

With 378 driv­ers in Chiltern Dis­trict and 179 in South Bucks, to­gether with 145 pri­vate hire ve­hi­cles and 146 taxis in Chiltern and 86 pri­vate hire and 71 taxis in South Bucks, the li­cens­ing team is kept busy but it also finds time to get out regularly to chat to driv­ers at the ranks, which are mainly around

LI­CENS­ING DUO: Above, Coun­cil­lor Alan Wal­ters MBE and left, Cllr Jonathan Rush rail­way sta­tions.

Cllr Wal­ters said: “The checks are there both to safe­guard the public and the driv­ers them­selves and the driv­ers would be very quick to tell us should they spot un­li­censed driv­ers or ve­hi­cles in the area. But there are things peo­ple us­ing these ser­vices can also do to en­sure they re­main safe and that in­cludes only us­ing li­censed ve­hi­cles.”

A taxi is easy to spot – it has a taxi sign on the roof – but check for a reg­is­tra­tion plate on the back. If it doesn’t have a reg­is­tra­tion plate, don’t get in it. Mr March said: “The other thing to re­mem­ber is that pri­vate hire ve­hi­cles must be pre­booked, the driv­ers can’t just pick some­one up out­side a pub or at the side of the road with­out a book­ing.

“So if a pri­vate hire driver re­fuses to give some­one a lift even though there is no one in his ve­hi­cle, it’s be­cause he’s not al­lowed – not ev­ery­one re­alises that.”

More in­for­ma­tion about li­cens­ing mat­ters, can be found at www. south­ or

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